no rest for the wicked

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Book of Isaiah verses 48:22 and 57:20-21, originally Hebrew. First attested in English in 1535, in Coverdale Bible of Miles Coverdale.[1] Quoted in biblical sense for centuries, humorous secular sense popularized from 1930s, particularly due to use as title of popular Little Orphan Annie strip by Harold Gray in 1933.[1]

Proverb[edit]

no rest for the wicked

  1. (literally) Eternal torment in hell awaits sinners.
  2. (humorous) People who are wicked must work harder than normal people.

Usage notes[edit]

Primarily used today for mild comic effect,[1] meaning “one must work (particularly because one has been lax)”, as in Annie usage.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 No rest for the wicked”, in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder.